Bolton the Cowboy for a crisis
He came to the rescue of some stranded under-20s players on Sunday night and now North Queensland forward Scott Bolton is ready to step into the void left by the departure of former Test props James Tamou and Ben Hannant.
How the Cowboys cope with life after Tamou and Hannant has been the question asked most often in Townsville over the summer but Bolton has won the right to partner co-captain Matt Scott in the front row against the Raiders on Saturday night.
The renowned outdoorsman of the Cowboys squad, Bolton missed six weeks of the Cowboys' premiership season in 2015 due to an injury incurred whilst fishing and along with Blake Leary and Ben Spina regularly pull in barramundi more than a metre in length in the waterways of the state's north.
When one of the Cowboys' under-20s got their 4WD bogged at a river's edge on Sunday two other players came to their aid... only to get bogged themselves.
So an SOS was sent to Bolton who in fading light extricated one of the stranded vehicles before heading back on Monday afternoon to retrieve the others.
"They rang me at about 6 o'clock to come and try and tow them out and it got dark so I didn't want to go out too far," Bolton told NRL.com.
"There were three cars stuck out there – two of them went out to help them – and they got bogged. I got one out and the other two are still there."
Bolton is also the man Cowboys coach Paul Green has turned to in his hour of need ahead of a host of young props eager to prove themselves in the top grade.
With the window of opportunity well and truly open, the likes of Sam Hoare, Patrick Kaufusi, Braden Uele and Corey Jensen have done all they can to push for a spot in the 17 for Round 1 but it will be Bolton who gets first crack at the big Raiders pack.
Entering his 11th season with the Cowboys Bolton has started in the front row only 11 times in his 178 career games to date and says coming back for a second stint later in games will be the major adjustment to his previous role from the bench.
"I've started both the trials and thought what I did there wasn't too bad and fingers crossed I can get a start at the start of the year this weekend and hopefully cement a spot through the year, prove myself as a starting front-rower," Bolton said.
"The only thing that will change is probably the time that I'm actually on the field during games and I might get a couple more minutes with a bit of luck with the two stints.
"If I can get two stints then the minutes will be up and hopefully I can do a bit more work out there.
"It's a bit more of a mental preparation, trying to get yourself in that state of mind. I'm used to doing the one stint and coming off and not having to go back on you do relax a bit more and go into more of a spectator's role.
"Having to go back out there is something that I will have to get used to and something I've worked pretty hard on to get my lungs going again just after half-time because I know I'm going to get back out there."
Very much cut from the cloth of the old school front-rowers, Bolton says he will bypass any sideline stints on the bike for a few simple laps up and down the sideline prior to returning to the field.
The addition of former Raider Shaun Fensom gives the Cowboys additional depth in the middle of the field and while others may question the club's prop department Bolton is excited to see how the young front-rowers develop during the season.
"Those blokes were ripping into us a bit that whole pre-season and looking to put their best foot forward for a spot," Bolton said of the competition for places.
"Everyone was talking about that depth being a bit light on in the front row so everyone was keen to put a good impression in and it will be good for us in the long run.
"I'm pretty lucky that I've grown up and watched these younger kids come through and I know what they can do.
"I'm looking forward to playing alongside them and obviously myself and Matthew with a bit more experience have to help them through just with the consistency of it.
"We've got a lot of depth here and definitely a lot of ability so it's just a matter of putting those performances on the field.
"If we can start well I think it will help them through those games especially early in the year."